Intriguing Short Flights

lgnrI was reading that the Scottish regional airline Loganair has won a contract to operate the world’s shortest flight, on a route in the Orkney Islands where journeys can last as little as 47 seconds. The route links Westray Island with Papa Westray Island, a distance of just over one mile for which the flight can last anywhere between 47 seconds and two minutes, depending on the direction of the wind.

As well as being the world’s shortest scheduled service, it is probably one of the world’s most expensive as a one way ticker cost 21 pounds. If other airlines charged as much as £21 per passenger air mile they would be out of business, and ocean liners would still be the world’s most popular way to travel over long distances.

There are some other intriguing scheduled short flights elsewhere in the world. Irish regional airline Aer Arann runs a 6 minute flight between Connemara and Inis Main Island, which is one of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, covering a distance of 16.8 kilometres.

Maya Island Air, a Belize-based airline also runs a scheduled two minute flight which connects the small Caribbean island of Caye Caulker with Caye Chapel which is just 4.8 km (3 miles) south of Caye Caulker. Caye Chapel is comprised basically just an airstrip and an 18-hole golf course.

As you would expect in a region that has dozens of small islands, there are a couple of short haul services in the Caribbean. Another one of the world’s shortest flights is the LIAT, which stands for Leeward Islands Air Transport, service between Antigua and Nevis in the Lesser Antilles. This flight lasts just five minutes.

There are plenty of airlines that have scheduled flights lasting about ten minutes, but these too are mainly inter-island services in most areas of the world. The majority of these flights use small aircraft such as Cessnas or the De Havilland Canada Dash-8.

Some short haul services do use larger aircraft. I once made a 15-minute flight between Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia on board an Airbus A320, and the experience was quite bizarre. Check-in took longer than the actual flight and once on board, because Malaysia Airlines is a full service carrier, cabin staff were virtually throwing a drink and biscuit at you to get the refreshments out to all passengers on time. Fortunately it was also quite a low flight as we took off, climbed for a few minutes before beginning our descent, and I decided that using short haul services was not a bad way to fly.

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